Test of the “I Was”-es (Part 1)

Matthew 25:35-39 KJV

[35] For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: [36] Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. [37] Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee ? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? [38] When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee ? [39] Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

The test of the I-was-es:

Seeing Jesus in all our weakness and need

Who protects the wary?

John 5:3-4 KJV

[3] In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. [4] For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

My first question for you is–do you believe there was an angel who came down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the waters?

So one person each time could be healed?

Crazy, right?

But no crazier than believing that Jesus healed the man who had been at the pool so long, who does not turn out to be the most grateful healed man.

I have skirted the issue of the angel at the pool for years, choosing instead to focus on Jesus and the man and the religious oligarchs who made it hard for Jesus.

I understand that angel complicates everything–messenger of God who brings some healing, brings some hope only

In a certain season.

Eternal Sea

When I wrote the slim, hasty, typo-ridden memoir Just, I used pseudonyms.

I chose to link my adopted children’s pseudonyms to their first initials C became Sea,

Sea like the color of his eyes

Sea like the cold ocean we stood in together

Sea like the depths, the hidden things both beautiful and terrible, the bigness of it all

Sea, placeholder for the God who makes seas then makes them evanesce

C is lost to me for now. He has disowned both me and the God who made me

But I can still remember

The time you hit your mouth on the hard metal of the seesaw and we had to rush you to the dentist

The way we would wait until you were sleeping to exclaim over your cuteness because

Most times when you were awake there was both sturm und drang

The time we went to the shore and I carried you on my back and you pummeled my head all the way back to the car

If I had a dollar for every time you hurt me or someone else I love dearly

It would not begin to be as much as you are worth

Of your eternal value

Of the Light you can become forever

If you just

Turn and face the Sea.

Ah, the tattoo!

When I was dealing with the trauma of finding out that a little boy I had taken in as a toddler had grown up to become a terrible person I

Had three things

I decided to use as grief-points:

Get a nose ring

Shave my head

Get a tattoo.

This week I have had to face that sometimes “a tattoo” is a luxury item

In a pandemic

In the way grief

Can worm its way into the fabric of who a person is

I am losing something else

Like a tattoo, a marker of the grief

And I found what I would put on that tattoo–

Love is

Unmistakable

The Feast of Thorns

Long before our terrible story your birthday was already

the feast of Servites pruning winter roses. I cling to that now, all the other days this day could be:

Obstinate mountains lumber into obeisant seas

Lame men whole, blind men see

Dead men rise and shake off their shroudy bindings

impossible things all around ya

If only you will

See

The Real Quiet Place

In the stories of Jesus’ public ministry there are accounts of people who have been healed of skin diseases which would have set them apart from their communities due to infection prevention measures codified by the Mosaic law.

In some of these stories, Jesus heals them and gives them permission to not tell people they were ever infected with these diseases.

I think this injunction was made (at least in part) to allow them to have a new life, unencumbered by prejudice.

When my family moved to a new place a few years after we found out that our adopted son had sexually assaulted some of our children, I realized that this was our chance to “start anew.”

We had pushed for legal consequences for Charles. We had a good counselor in the aftermath. We moved to protect the children. We were open with everyone in our previous community.

But we chose to continue

To tell our story.

The result has been fascinating and lonely.

There is a lot of prejudice about victims of sexual abuse and their families, maybe especially in churches.

We could be contagious?

Maybe

Or maybe it is our openness that scares them.

Either way, we call it “the island.” We live on an island

An island made of truth and pain and loneliness

With a single, unwavering resident

The one who heals us.

The one who knows this quiet place.

The one who tells us the truth will set us free.

My family is healthy, happy, and stable because we have never tried to hide

The story of our grief

But it can be quiet

On the island.

lighthouse

I started this blog eight years ago, when it became clear that no one was going to come to our rescue.

At that time the issue was my adopted son, who had sexually assaulted some of my children and some of the other children we knew, was being released from the Texas juvenile system. He would not have to register. His crimes had been lessened in a plea bargain, and then they were to be sealed.

We lived in the house where he had lived, where he had hurt the children.

I started the blog because I didn’t own a gun. I started the blog so there would be a record.

It has become more than all of that, and (at least so far) we have survived.

I believe in writing. I believe words can stand where people have walked away. So that is what lighthouse is about–a blog about fosters

Wherever you may find us.

The Last Normal Day

We are eternal, they are eternal, I tell her, but I know that there is something else, the purest kind of paradox, or is it tautology? Etiology? The woman in the park, on the streets, flagging down motorists, in the parking lots of churches, where people congregate like flocks of birds, always, always asking this uncomfortable question–

When was your last normal day? When was your last normal day?

When? When the truth

Stalks in

Wide awake

Solomon

Ecclesiastes 4:1-2 KJV

[1] So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. [2] Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.

I generally chafe at the wisdom of Solomon. I want to measure my “wise guys” by their lives–faithfulness, sobriety, compassion. S-man seems to fall abysmally short on all categories.

When I read this verse from Ecclesiastes it resonates with my own sense of the fragility and tenuousness of life, but then I cannot help that Solomon had so many powers the ordinary dude did not have to:

Stop oppression

Comfort the bereaved

And use his power as a monarch to generally improve his culture

He had the power to live a different life, to show a different way. I am no king, but I will be judged by how much better or worse I use my power

To change things.

Contemplating Hell

He says that I have lost my chance with him, as though he is a lottery ticket torn from my grasp by a strong wind in a storm, fluttering away with its winning numbers and it promise of untold riches.

I have lost my chance with him.

A week ago I stood in the Salvation Army and showed my youngest daughter a tee shirt–got love? Become a foster parent.

Her face clouds. Her life was radically altered by my decision to foster parent.

You had your chance with me…

He was small and scratched his face into bloody tiger stripes, he did not speak at almost two years of age. He did not potty train until just before kindergarten. He once desecrated a couch in a strange feral way.

The stories of my chances with him could fill terrible books.

I get it kid, you have a new god now.

But I am haunted by what will happen to you if you don’t have the guts to contemplate

The hell you unleashed on all of us and all it’s damning consequences.